Blocking bighead, silver, and other invasive carp by optimizing lock and dams

Project manager: Peter Sorensen

Project description: Untold millions of invasive Silver and Bighead carp presently inhabit the Mississippi River below the Iowa border from where they threaten to invade Minnesota. This project proposes to solve this problem by developing a scheme to modify lock and dam structures in Minnesota by enhancing their deterrent properties through four key, linked steps.

Activity 1: Install a safe carp deterrent in front of the lock at Lock and Dam #8 located at the Iowa border while guiding efforts to enhance and optimize velocity fields to stop carp movement through its gates while having minimal effects on native fishes. The goal of this activity is to immediately and safely maximize water velocity through the gates of lock and dam #8 near the Iowa border while deploying a simple and safe acoustical deterrent system in its lock chamber as a stop-gap measure.

Activity 2: Quantify the swimming capabilities of both species of adult Bighead carps, thereby producing the data needed to optimize dam function. Swimming performance data for adult carps are essential to accurately forecast passage and optimize gate function so that velocities are not higher than needed.

Activity 3: Test and develop new acoustical deterrent systems that best deter carp from entering lock chambers which have minimal effects on native fishes. Lock chambers present a potential way for Bigheaded carps to pass upstream, irrespective of gate function. Sound deterrents have special promise because carps are hearing specialists.

Activity 4: Develop numeric solutions to eventually optimize dam operation at all Minnesota lock and dams (#2 through #8) to prevent Bighead carp invasion statewide while having minimal effects on native fishes. The purpose of this activity is to identify potential weaknesses (scenarios by which carp might swim thorough the lock and dams) in Lock and Dam #2 in Hastings and then optimize gate operation to block Bighead carp throughout the entire lock and dam system in Minnesota. Lock and Dam #2 is of special interest because it maintains higher velocities than other dams, is ideally situated far from the invasion front, and is located downstream of the Minnesota River.

The final objective of this work is to make explicit recommendations with (and to) the USACE for optimization of all Minnesota lock and dams (#2 through #8) to block the invasion of Bigheaded carps while still serving USACE needs and having minimal effects in native fishes.

Project start date: 2014

Estimated project end date: 2017

Updates and progress: